Tamarack is a Waldorf School which integrates the arts – music, drama, storytelling, movement, handwork, painting, drawing and sculpture – as part of lessons in math, science, language arts, history and other academic subjects. In the elementary grades, children remain with the same class teacher from first through eighth grade. All grade children learn two languages (Spanish and German), learn to play pentatonic and diatonic flute, and have vocal and instrumental specialists beginning in grade four. Subjects are taught in intensive ‘blocks’ of three to four weeks in duration. During a block, the class studies a single subject for a two hour morning lesson each day.
Kindergarden: A bridge from Home to School
Since young children learn from the world through imitation and play, Waldorf teachers consciously serve as role models, creating a warm and caring atmosphere that fosters mutual regard and respect.
Visitors to our kindergartens are charmed by the magic that pervades these rooms. Natural toys and materials and the soft colors of the warm, homelike atmosphere encourages imaginative play as the work of the young child. Here, the child’s imagination and sense of joy can find expression.
The Kindergarten Way
Kindergarten children experience the rhythm of the day while alternating between imaginative free play and planned group activities. On any given day in the classroom, groups of children may be found ‘fishing’ from a ‘dock’ in the loft, building castles toward the sky or tending to ‘hearth and home’ in our child-sized kitchen play area.
An array of materials is always on hand as resources for creative play. These include silk and cotton fabrics for dress up and house building, unpainted wooden blocks, natural logs, and simple handmade dolls.
Daily activities such as watercolor painting, baking, storytelling, and beeswax modeling provide the child with opportunities to be immersed in the imaginative world.
Morning circle may include seasonal songs, finger plays and rhythmic games which will challenge the children with speech work, movement and rhythm; all precursors to healthy development in writing, reading and math at the grade school level.
The grade school classes at Tamarack gradually develop in a manner that matches the growth of the child from dreamy first grader to awake and aware, truth-seeking eighth grader. Each phase of childhood contains an overarching theme that is reflected in the curriculum of that year. For example, in first grade, fairy tales are used as a way to introduce writing, reading, mathematics and early science study.
Curriculum builds from year to year moving through subjects such as saints and fables; Old Testament, farming and house building; Norse mythology and fractions; ancient civilizations and botany; Roman history and astronomy; the Renaissance and physics.
The subjects culminate in eighth grade with the presentation of 19th and 20th century history, chemistry and algebra.
The Grade School Day
The day begins with a two hour Main Lesson. During this learning period, purposely set at the time of day when children are at their most alert and receptive, one subject is studied in depth for three to four weeks. An imaginative presentation is given by the teacher and reviewed the following day.
Subject matter is then brought out again through writing, drawing and other projects. Subjects covered in the lesson block correspond to the physical, emotional and spiritual capacities of the child at each stage in their development.
Eight Years – One Teacher
Waldorf class teachers receive extensive specialized training in the Waldorf curriculum and the Waldorf understanding of child development. The teacher joins the class in first grade and travels with the students as they progress through the eight grades. This helps forge a bond of familiarity and respect between students and teacher that supports learning.